Oral Answers to Questions — Minimum Lending Rate

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th March 1979.

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Photo of Mr Harold Lever Mr Harold Lever , Manchester Central 12:00 am, 5th March 1979

My hon. Friend raises two interesting points. The first relates to the profits made by some people in dealing in gilts. All I can say is that of course some people make profits from time to time dealing in gilts. Otherwise, they would not deal in them. If my hon. Friend were to offer me a gift of either the profits made recently dealing in gilts or the losses that have been made in gilts in recent years, I am afraid that I should have to tell him that the latter would quite dwarf the former.

The second point raised by my hon. Friend is important. The key problem for the Government in a difficult inflationary situation such as we have now is how to prevent the measures taken to curb inflation from further adding to the public sector borrowing requirement by increasing the unemployed, non-wealth-creating sector of our economy. I share my hon. Friend's anxiety on this score and am anxious that we tackle this problem so as to reduce the PSBR, as well as the human unhappiness and wealth loss which results from this high level of unemployment.